Shopping around for a new energy deal

Find out how you can get a better deal and keep more money in your pocket rather than it going to your energy retailer's bottom line
 
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01 .Save money on your energy bill

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Are you paying too much for your energy? If you haven't reviewed your energy plan recently, chances are you're paying too much.

With winter coming, check out our guide on how to keep your home warm and cosy and find out about the big energy guzzlers around your home.

This article takes a looks at:

For more information about Saving energy, see Power and energy.

Can you change your electricity retailer?

If you live in:

  • NSW – Yes
  • QLD – Yes
  • VIC - Yes
  • SA – Yes
  • ACT – Yes
  • TAS – no  (Aurora Energy is your retailer)
  • NT – no (Power and Water Corporation is your retailer)
  • WA – this depends on where you live. If your distributor is not Western Power (i.e. you do not live in the SWIS area), you are free to choose your retailer. However, the Office of Energy WA reports that there may be no alternative to Horizon Power at this point. 

What kind of plan are you on now?

Before you look at the other options available, you need to check what you are currently paying and if there are any fees associated with changing your plan or retailer. If you don’t have any past bills at hand or the information isn’t on these, call your current retailer to find out the answers. 

While you are looking at your old bills, take a note of how many kWh you use each quarter. This will be helpful for you to compare offers. If possible, dig up your bills for the past year as you may use more during winter or summer.

How are you currently charged under your current plan?

You will need to know how you are currently charged to see if there is a better deal available. This will be either:

  • a single flat rate at all times 
  • different prices, based on the time of use; or
  • a lower price at night for heating hot water for example with a single flat rate for everything else. (This is an off-peak rate that is linked to a specific appliance that only works at off peak times and may be referred to as a ‘controlled load’ tariff on your bill.)

You will be charged in one of these ways regardless of what type of meter you have (a smart ‘time-of-use’ meter or an old type ‘accumulation’ meter).

Tips: 
  • If you have an old electric storage hot water system, it is worthwhile considering all your alternative hot water system options now before it goes. Water heating can account for a quarter of typical household energy use. You may find a system that saves energy and money and is kinder to the environment.
  • If you have a pool pump or under-floor heating, investigate whether you can get it linked to a ‘controlled load’ tariff and the level of potential savings.  
  • If you are on a time-of-use plan, when purchasing your next dishwasher or washing machine consider buying one with a delayed start option.

 
 

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What other plans are out there?

If you are in NSW, Queensland or Victoria, check out the government comparison sites. 

The Australian Energy Regulator compares energy deals for other jurisdictions.

Look at commercial switching sites. Depending on the plan, some of these sites can make the switch for you, but be careful – they may not look at the whole market.

When comparing deals, consider:

  • The rates per kWh. 
  • Fixed supply charges.
  • Discounts - For example, for paying on time (check if they are for the whole bill i.e. fixed charges and usage charges OR for usage only).

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  • Late fees.
  • Billing - How often do you receive your bill and how can you pay?
  • Other fees - For e.g. establishment fees, fees for receiving paper bills.
  • Length of contract - Do you need to sign up to a long-term contract? Are any exit fees or moving home fees applicable?
  • Other terms and conditions. 
  • Your gas plan - If you have mains gas, find out whether it will be cheaper to move both your electricity and gas to the same retailer.

When evaluating other plans online, also consider the following:

  • Take a look at the level of savings associated with each plan. Note that often these estimates assume that you pay your bill on time and that you pay by a certain payment method e.g. direct debit.
  • The level of savings associated with each plan are typically for the first year only and may include for example a $50 credit on your first bill. Therefore if the plan is for more than one year, the savings would not be the same for subsequent years.

If you find something better, contact your current provider and see if they will match it or do better. If they can’t, that is a good time to re-check any fees that would apply if you leave.

If you decide that you want to switch, you can contact the new retailer directly or alternatively use a commercial switching site that offers this facility. 

Know your rights

If you are switching electricity plans, you have a 10 business-day cooling-off period. This means you can change your mind and cancel the contract within 10 business days.

If you are being door-knocked or telephoned by marketers:

  • Don’t feel pressured to make a decision on the spot. 
  • For door-knockers, ask to see their identification. By law, they have to show you. If you ask them to leave, they must leave immediately.
  • There have been reports of sales people saying that ‘your supplier won’t change’. This is not true. The distributor (i.e. the poles and wires) that supplies your electricity won’t change but your retailer (the one that bills you) will change.

If you don’t like people knocking on your door, you can get a ‘Do not knock’ sticker to put out the front of your house. 

If you do not wish to be contacted by telemarketers, you can register on the Australian Government’s Do Not Call Register online or by calling 1300 792 958.

For more information about your rights when a salesperson knocks, see here.

What else can you do?


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